SULHITA  Palestinian, Israeli youth

bring their parents into the circle

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


                The best way to predict the future is to invent it.  
                                 Alan  Kay

     Sulha in Arabic language and culture is a process of engagement leading to forgiveness and reconciliation.
     The Sulha Peace Project - - is a newer, widely-attended tradition in the Holy Land.
     In August, 2007, over 4,000 youth and adults attended the sixth annual "On the Way to Sulha" gathering in the olive groves of the Latrun Trappist monastery, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
     They included over 300 Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron.
    There were Israeli Jews, including many religious Jews and settlers, as well as Arabs from the Galilee and Bedouin from the Negev.

     The Sulhita is newer, for Israeli and Palestinian youth only - Muslims, Jews and Christians.
In February, 2007, their Palestinian-Israeli youth retreat at Ma'ale Shaharut in the Arava Desert in Israel brought together 90 teenagers - 45 Jews and 45 Arabs, including 10 from the West Bank, 15 from Gaza, and 20 from Israel.
     November 19-23, 2007, inspired Holy Land adults again brought together for a week at Shan Derech Habsamim in the Arava Desert 100 Palestinian and Israeli teens, ages 16-17, including 30 from the West Bank and 15 from Gaza.
     It changed lives and world views of the youth and counselors.
     SEE a 5-minute video of their experience:
     Part of the Sulhita staff had just returned with inspiration and tools from the October 5th Oseh Shalom ~ Sanea-al Salam Palestinian-Jewish Peacemakers Camp in the California mountains.
     Elad Vazana ( ) shepherded the Sulhita and was a primary initiator, trainer and facilitator.
     Rina Kedem ( ) brought youth from the Arava area and was part of an Arava Institute team that gave an ecology workshop for nine teens - 3 Palestinians, 3 Israelis and 3 Americans.
     Amit Chertoff ( ) gave a mud building workshop.
     Ariel Huler ( ) from Seeds of Peace helped bring young SOP participants..
     Noam Burg ( ) volunteered to help create bridges between the adults and youth.
     Deddy Paz ( ) was strongly supportive.
     Karen AbuZant ( ) from Tulkarem tried to bring teens from her town who eventually couldn't travel.

     See PHOTOS at .
     See TV NEWS of the most recent Fall, 2007 Sulhita in the Arava Desert:

January 2008 SULHITA Family Reunion
     In January, 2008, Sulhita participants reunited at Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace) - - an Israeli village where Arab and Jewish families live and learn together.
     This time the Sulhita youth brought together their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers from the West Bank and Israel.
     They expanded the circle to share the experience of their new quality of communication and connection.
     Back in listening circles, the 140 adults and youth shared pains and hopes, and spoke of the importance of home in shaping one's identity and complete knowledge about Arab-Jewish history and relationships.
     The 60 youth included 30 boys and 30 girls, with 24 from the West Bank.     
     There were 70 mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters of the youth, and 10 other guests.
     In listening circles they deeply heard one another's pain and hopes.
     They shared meals, social games, and singing Sulhita songs of hope.
     Most family members had never met someone from the "other side."
     Each youth experienced making a difference - influencing their parents and widening the circle of Sulha.
     See PHOTOS at .

     The 5th Sulhita, April 3-7, 2008, brought back together in the Arava desert 100 motivated Jewish and Palestinians teens.
     Signed up were 140 participants, 40 from West Bank towns.
     See the INVITATIONS they used to discover young participants:
        Arabic invitation -
        Hebrew invitation -

     In one social outcome, a 16-year-old Jewish Israeli Sulhita participant single-handedly organized a first-ever meeting between teens from her Jewish village, Nataf, and their next-door Arab village, Ein Raffa.
     The two villages in Israel are 5-minutes apart, yet there had never before been social contact.

     An added educational benefit will come from Jewish Sulhita leader, Elad Vazana ( and ) and a Palestinian colleague who are finishing a book of facilitator guidelines and experiences for community building among Palestinian and Jewish communities.
     It will be a how-to for workshop leaders.
     Young volunteers will have tools to help citizens in their communities engage for the environment, economics, gender, dialogue communication, and conflict deliberation and resolution.

Next step: June 2008 SULHITA Family Reunion
     In a next-step, this mid-June, 2008 over 200 Sulhita campers and their families - parents, sisters, brothers - will will drive to gather in a beautiful monastery in Abu-Gosh near Jerusalem.
     Meeting with 130 citizens of Israel will be two buses filled with 90 participants from the West Bank.
     Most parents will be meeting someone from the "other side" for the first time.
     Preparation will include all 15 facilitators first meeting earlier in a Nataf home for quality time together - leadership preparation and deepening in Dialogue.

Next step: July 2008 SULHITA Deepening
     Then in July, 2008 on beautiful Mt. Carmel will be further bonding and deepening in principles and practices.
     Over 4 days, the 30 most active youth, 40 from the leadership team of the larger Sulha - - and all 30 listening circle facilitators will strengthen their own relationships and skills.
     Trainer and spiritual mentor Elad Vazana, one member of a dedicated Sulha team, makes sure that leaders are living the life they prescribe to the young Jewish and Palestinian campers.
     Vazana describes this new kind of life as beginning with "face-to-face gathering and deep dialogue - looking in the 'other' eyes - crying and smiling."
     Arabs and Jews together - listening, creating, equals.
     The foundation for sustainable change.
     The role of citizens.
    The dependable beginning.
     Inventing the future.

                The best way to predict the future is to invent it.  
                                 Alan  Kay